August 4, 2013

Faith of Our Fathers

Passage: Joshua 24:31
Service Type:



  1. When you look at history, you see accounts given of “great men”
  2. These stories are mostly mythological
    1. For example, so far as we know, George Washington never actually chopped down a cherry tree
    2. Likewise, there is also no evidence that Abraham Lincoln wrote the answers to his homework on the back of a shovel using coal because he had no pencil or paper
    3. When you see ancient histories written of kings,
      1. you see how strong and powerful they are,
      2. but never how they struggled to hold it together or lost battles
    4. It’s all very intimidating
  1. The Godly faithful
    1. Abraham
      1. Virtues
        1. Noble
        2. Bold in beginning his sojourn
        3. Compassionate
        4. Full of faith
      2. Sin: Liar (Gen. 12:12-13; Gen. 20:2-3)
    2. Moses
      1. Virtues
        1. Godly lawgiver
        2. Stood up to Pharaoh
        3. First leader of Israel
        4. Interceded for the people
      2. Sins
        1. Killed another man (Ex. 2:11-12)
        2. No desire to do God’s work (Ex. 3)
        3. Faithless (Ex. 20:10-12)
    3. David
      1. Virtues
        1. Brave (Goliath)
        2. Honorable (Did not kill Saul: 1 Sam. 24:6; 26:9-11; 2 Sam 1)
        3. “A man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22)
      2. Sins
        1. Adulterer and murderer (2 Sam. 11)
        2. Hypocritical
        3. Prideful (1 Chron. 1:21)
    4. Peter
      1. Virtues
        1. Loyal
        2. Active in the defense of the Lord
        3. Makes him easy to identify with
      2. Sins
        1. Denied Christ (Matt. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 18)
        2. Hypocritical (Gal. 2:11-13)
    5. Paul
      1. Virtues
        1. Zealous
        2. Bold
        3. Willing to be imprisoned and die for his belief
      2. Sins: Persecutor (Acts 9:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:15)
  2. Why is it important to point this out
    1. These were great men
      1. We look up to them all
      2. We love to hear their triumphant stories
      3. Like the “Great Men of History” it can be very intimidating
    2. But they were also sinners who committed great sin
      1. Liars
      2. Adulterers
      3. Murderers
      4. Hypocrites
      5. Persecutors of the people of God
    3. We must understand why God included those stories
      1. These men were sinful and had struggles and faults
      2. We also are sinful and have faults
      3. God was willing to save them and is likewise willing to save us
  3. The place of storytelling in holding onto our kids
    1. God had a plan
      1. Teach the law (Deut. 6:6-9, 20; 11:18-21)
      2. This included the telling of stories
        1. Passover (Ex. 12:26-27)
        2. The stones at Gilgal (Josh. 4)
        3. Jesus taught almost exclusively in stories (Matt. 13:34)
    2. We need to tell still more stories
      1. We need to tell the stories of the Bible – God intended it so
      2. But, sometimes we wonder why our children fall away so readily at the first sign of struggle
    3. The story of Israel after Joshua (Josh. 24:31)
      1. This is a cryptic line that is not explained until Judges 2:7-10
      2. “This text is a witness to the apparent failure of the community to keep alive its memory of Yahweh’s gracious saving acts. The priests had failed in their instructional duties (Lev 10:11); and the elaborate system of festivals, memorials, and other customs, designed to pass on the rich spiritual tradition (Deut 6:20) had either lapsed or been reduced to formality. If the Shemaʿ (Deut 6:4) was being recited at all, the following injunctions to the community (6:5–6) to instruct the children in the fundamentals of covenant faith were obviously regarded more in the breach than in the observance. When people lose sight of God’s grace, they lose sight of God and the sense of any obligation to him. All that follows in the book is a consequence of Israel’s loss of memory.”[1]
    4. We bear within ourselves the marks of God’s grace
      1. There have been times when we have struggled with our faiths
      2. Do our children know about those times?
        1. Do they know how we overcame?
        2. Do they even know about the times when, like the great men of old, we stumbled and fell?
        3. Do they know of our struggles to regain the right path afterward?
      3. I fear that by not relating these stories
        1. Our children place us on those same pedestals
        2. And think that is a normal thing
        3. They more easily succumb to temptation and fall away believing that their struggle is what “isn’t normal”
      4. They end up with “the faith of our fathers”
        1. An unreal faith that is based only on what someone else says should be and upon a superficial exam of that life
        2. “This is what dad believes and he’s never wrong, and his faith has ALWAYS been so strong…”


  1. Paul made use of the example of Timothy’s mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5)
  2. Peter talks of the example of the believing wife upon her unbelieving husband (1 Pet. 3:1)
  3. These stories of our own lives are not unimportant
    1. In convincing the lost to come to Christ
    2. In helping the weak to remain
  4. Do you need to start down that road tonight by putting on the Lord in baptism?
  5. Do you need to return back down the right path so that the stories that you have to tell might have a happy ending?

[1] Block, D. I. (1999). Judges, Ruth. The New American Commentary (Vol. 6, pp. 122–123). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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